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2.1 Oh, You're a Creative Type

Do you consider yourself creative? Do others consider you creative? In what way? Although society claims to value creativity, does it fully embrace those who are perhaps a bit eccentric, those who operate outside the social norms, those who are perhaps literally "wired differently" at a neural level? How do schools approach creative thinking as compared to critical thinking?

Today I'm contemplating what makes a person creative and whether or not creativity is valued in educational settings.

Creativity, by my definition is the ability to respond to challenges with flexible thinking, and serves a useful function in an ever-changing world. Creativity can help us adapt to new situations, communicate our thoughts and feelings, master new processes, and organize the constant barrage of information generated by our digital lives. Creative thinking, then, becomes a tool of the resilient learner. Perhaps this is why it appears alongside Critical thinking as a sub-competency in BC's curriculum. The Thinking competencies are closely inter-related with Communication as well as Personal and Social Awareness.

It stands to reason that since creative thinking is prominent in the curriculum and that Creative Thinking goals, objectives and strategies appear in many IEPs, that educators would have a clear understanding of how to recognize creativity, how to distinguish it from critical thinking, and how to assess student progress in relation to their goals. Yet I do not think this is the case, as many teachers struggle to assess (i.e. put a number value or a descriptor on) an Observation or a Conversation, when they have no trouble assessing a Product, and I would argue that in most cases, the brilliance of the creativity is discovered in the the process, not the product. Sometimes subject-area teachers are unconcerned with how a student arrived at the correct answer and simply need to get through the content within the limited timeframe of the semester. It may even be the case that curious students who "think outside the box" are disliked by their teachers (Mueller et al., 2012). While I'm not suggesting synonymity (Runco, 2008), it makes me think about how misunderstood our neurodivergent students may be, and also about how we miss opportunities to serve our gifted students.

Cognitive research tells us that although creative thinking has been the engine of scientific discovery and beneficial from an evolutionary standpoint (Runco, 2004), people are often reluctant to put forward novel solutions to problems for fear of failure or social rejection (Mueller et al., 2012, p. 13). The risk-averse may disregard a creative and probably-effective solution in favour of a practical solution that guarantees a result, even if it means lowered effectiveness. If our students are passive in their approach to learning and give up even if they have great ideas, it's no wonder that they lack resilience and become disengaged. I wonder if this could be what drives the widespread use of generative AI, even where it is academically dishonest. Simply put, students become unwilling to try. I think that is reason enough to look at the Core Competencies in staff groupings to explore the possibilities of integrating them with the Curricular Competencies for each content area. For example, the Teaching and Learning Guide and the K-12 Learning Progressions are helpful tools for determining how the core competencies are woven throughout the curriculum for each grade level, and would be beneficial to teachers when planning for student success and noting degrees of progress.

References and Resources

BC Learning Pathways, A Guide for Teachers, British Columbia Ministry of Education, retrieved July 17 from

K-12 Learning Progressions, British Columbia Ministry of Education, retrieved Juy 17 from

Mueller, J. S., Melwani, S., & Goncalo, J. A. (2012). The Bias Against Creativity: Why People Desire but Reject Creative Ideas. Psychological Science, 23(1), 13–17.

Runco, M. A. (2004). Creativity. Annual Review of Psychology, 55, 657–687.

Runco, M. A. (2008). Commentary: Divergent Thinking Is Not Synonymous With Creativity. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, 2(2), 93–96.

2 comentarios

20 jul 2023

Hi Julie,

I've never made the connection between AI and a students fear to be freely creative, but it makes sense. I've been exploring creativity in my blog, and I also keep arriving at the question of how creativity can look in students who are neurodivergent? What have we misunderstood, interpreted as being off task or not engaged? If we aspire to teach with diversity, then we must be willing to allow diverse responses to the activities we facilitate. I do think that students who 'think outside the box' can be off putting to teachers, and I am guilty of this myself. There's a risk of having an whole lesson (or block) derailed and because we're so committed to 'sticking…

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20 jul 2023
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Sarah, What you're naming is the tension that most of us do experience daily, being caught between the need to be over-planned and curriculum-aligned at the same time as being ready to respond to those precious off-script "teachable moments" where we feel we actually break through to meaningful connection for our students. I think that often, neurodivergent students are engaged with the learning activities in ways that we don't recognize as being "on task" or value in our traditional assessment practices. I also think that we could resolve that tension by leaning into innovative delivery and assessment methods that lend themselves to creativity and collaboration. Wouldn't it be great to scaffold students toward actual self-regulation?

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